ANNIVERSARY REUNION TO CELEBRATE OUR
ATTESTATION AS A RAF AIRCRAFT APPRENTICE ON 20 MAY 1959
50th anniversary of our enlistment took place at RAF Halton on
the weekend 23/24th May 2009 and what a glorious weekend it turned out
to be. The weather could not have been kinder to all
the members and their wives or partners who attended, for many, their
meeting in 47 years.
From the 3 hotels we were billeted, coaches
transported us to Halton which looked magnificent in the evening sunshine with
the airfield, running track, Schools, Workshops and other places all evoking
personal memories for each and every one of us.
To Main Point where, hopefully, Joe Bollard looked kindly down on us and
then, via Henderson Groves area, to the Museum where more memories were
re-kindled of what our time at Halton was all about - talk of filing and test
pieces seemed to be predominant!
And so to dinner.
Piped in by the Golden Oldies Keith Youlden this was, for many of us the
first time we had set foot in a Halton airmen's' mess since leaving and what a
pleasant surprise - no senior entry bods pushing in, no trough of grey, tepid,
water where your mug and irons came out dirtier than when they went in and to
top it all, a very enjoyable meal.
Toasts were proposed to the organizing committee after which we were
treated to some glorious pipe music from Keith and then, much to our amazement
and enjoyment, from our own Trumpet Major Barney Barnsley. The evening was rounded off in the bar of
Halton House where again a lot of 'catching up' seemed the order of the day.
On Sunday we returned to Halton House for coffee
followed by an enlightening talk by Min on the history and, seemingly, its
future for many years to come. Many took
the opportunity to wander around the magnificent rooms while a few said they'd
seen it all before - filling shoes with water and raising the Jolly Roger on
the roof flagpole!
Halton House we re-assembled at the church for
the re-dedication of the entry window. Min, once again gave us an
talk - this time on how the entry window idea came about.
Imagining the window in its original form one
can understand the Padre's comment about lavatorial! Wally Epton
gave the reading and Roger
Stigant regaled us with facts and figures concerning the 92nd.
Easy to see now why we were the best! After the service there
were photos at the
tribute before a final round of handshakes and farewells with promises
about meeting up again at the next Tri-ennial and, hopefully, the 50th
anniversary of our graduation
Of course, none of this would have taken place if it
weren't for the sterling efforts of a few committed people. We have to thank Vic Rice, Barney Barnsley,
Geoff Supple, Tony King and Al Farley for bringing all the loose ends together
to produce a brilliant weekend. Thanks
to Dave Banks who again provided us with the very professional name badges, to
Min Larkin and the museum staff for their time and enthusiasm, to our wives and
partners having to put up with our childish delight as old friendships were
re-established and faces, some not seen for decades, were recognised, and
finally, to all of us who made the effort to attend - I'm sure we all came away
from it a little richer for the experience.
Mik Frost (Engines)
ANNIVERSARY REUNION TO CELEBRATE OUR
GRADUATION FROM RAF HALTON ON 18 APRIL 1962 HELD AT THE BELLHOUSE HOTEL BEACONSFIELD
hard to believe that 3 years have passed since we commemorated the 50th
anniversary of our enlistment but, on the weekend of the18/19th May 2012, 58 members of the entry and 34 wives, partners
and a daughter gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our
graduation. Two members of the entry
made journeys above and beyond the call of duty from the far-flung Empire-
Brian Williams from Australia
and Derek Orr from Canada. The weekend took place, fittingly, at the
Bell House hotel at Beaconsfield,
the same venue as for our graduation dinner.
atmosphere on that Saturday afternoon, when most people were arriving, seemed
to become more charged as friendships were renewed and faces, some not seen since
50 years previously, were recognised.
I'm sure that wives could not believe they were listening to their,
ordinarily sensible, other halves becoming more animated and juvenile as the
years rolled back and past adventures and misdemeanours alike were recalled.
in the bar to carry on from the afternoon and for pre-dinner drinks, we were
soon summoned to dinner by a Golden Oldies piper - Sam Wright (97th
entry). The dinner was an excellent meal, promptly and efficiently served.
had a guest of honour - Min Larkin - and how fitting because Min seems to have
taken on the responsibility on behalf of all apprentices to keep alive the
spirit of Halton, and all it stands for.
He provided us with an excellent amusing and anecdotal after-dinner speech
that rounded off what was a most enjoyable evening.
Sunday morning, those of us going to Halton said our farewells to those not
making the trip. At Halton House we were
once again entertained by Min who gave an enlightening and interesting talk on
the history of the house and, seemingly, its future for many years to
come. Many took the opportunity to
wander around the magnificent rooms while a few (no names, no pack drill) said
they'd seen it all before - filling shoes with water and raising the Jolly
Roger on the roof flagpole!
Halton House we assembled at St.
George's church for the re-dedication of the entry
to Paul Amos who gave the reading and a special word of thanks to Roger Stigant
for his warm and thought-provoking talk on this important occasion with a
summary of our time at Halton - taking us back to think of the ups and downs,
the seemingly endless cleaning and spit and polish, our many sporting
achievements, of summer camp at Penhale and many others. We were reminded of the high standard of
instruction in both Schools and Workshops and that now, in our later years, we
recognise the huge influence that those 3 years had on our lives and
achievements both in and out of the Royal Air Force. Easy to see now why we were the best!
Our numbers have decreased over the years
as members have passed on to the Great Hangar in the sky - they are sadly
missed but their memory will always be with us
also reminded us of the design concept for the entry window - the entry badge
of course, with a view of the Chiltern Hills
and a sunset sky showing the Pole Star as an aiming point. He added some
background information on the creators of the window - Keith Barley and Helen
Whittaker of Barley Studios, York, who have carried out work for Lichfield
Cathedral, Beverley Minster and the Royal Air Force Club in Piccadilly to name
but a few.
the service there were photos at the Tribute before a lunch at Henderson
Mess. It was an interesting experience
trying to eat off plastic-coated paper plates with plastic cutlery but the food
was very good. Then it was off to the
museum to re-connect ourselves with fragments of the past we'd forgotten,
before a final round of handshakes and farewells with promises made about
meeting up again at the next Tri-ennial and organising something for our 55th
so, how did it all come about? Well, the
truth is it wouldn't have happened at all if it weren't for the efforts of
those stalwart figures working backstage.
In particular, we have to thank 'Barney' Barnsley
whom, whenever I was in contact with him, seemed to be involved in every aspect
of planning for the occasion. Modest man
that he is, 'Barney' wishes to thank Seb Rees of 'travel services.com', Essex for the work he did, even up to the last moment, in
arranging the accommodation. Thanks also
to Colin Munslow, Geoff Supple, Dave Banks and Paul Amos for providing the
Entry banner and shields, Vic Rice for paying the bills, Tony King
for liaising with the RAFHAA Office to ensure that the visit to Halton went off
smoothly and for greeting members as they arrived and Ken Cochrane for being
everywhere with his camera to record the occasion for posterity. Not
forgetting, of course, Tom Chamberlain for entertaining us all with a reworked
version of his own composition “The 92nd Entry Song”.
Perhaps the biggest thanks should go
to every one of us who was able to attend, making the celebration such a
success for the organisers.
Mik Frost (Engines)
92ND ENTRY REUNION TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS SINCE GRADUATION WINDOW RE-DEDECATION SERVICE
SUNDAY 20TH MAY 2012
Good to see you
here chaps. I apologise for repeats in this synopsis of the entry history and
Min (bless him) said quite a bit for me - but it shows we all think and feel
the same; it’s called bonding.
On our arrival
at RAF Halton on 19th May 1959 was the start of a very big event in
our young lives.
on the dotted line we were marched back to our bed spaces. It was off with our
civvies, which we parceled up in brown paper to be returned to our parents. So
began the three years which were to shape the rest of our lives. We were thrown
together in large barrack rooms, disciplined with drill, P.T. and domestication
– i.e. BULL, SPIT AND POLISH. It has been calculated that we consumed 60,750lbs
of meat, 243,000lbs of potatoes and 240,000 eggs! Oh yes we grew tall and
gained weight. One guy gained 10½ inches in height and another up to 63lbs
Looking back now, I think we were lucky and somewhat blessed compared to
today’s young people going off to college or university. No one had to worry
about £9,000 fees and student loans. We were fed, clothed, kept fit and paid
just enough for us to get by. But the most important thing for which we joined
were the further education opportunities and a mechanical/electrical apprentice
training which was second to none. This was delivered to us by men who knew
their stuff and who were true down to earth skilled tradesmen.
Most, if not all of us have benefitted well from our time at Halton. The
results on pass out showed that we scored above average in skill and knowledge,
living up to our entry motto of “Manu et Scientifica” translated as “by skill
and knowledge” But let’s face it; it was hard and tough going at times with the
daily grind, parades, inspections schools, workshops and nuisance pranks by
senior entries – usually at night. You can’t forget being tipped out of bed and
finding boots with laces removed piled up in the bath!
We really started to bond together after the big 3 wing change round,
coming together as No 1 Squadron in No 1 Wing with red hatband and red wheel
disc. Our entry developed a pride in itself. There was plenty of opportunity
for sport, 52 members represented the school in athletics, badminton,
basketball, boxing, cross country running, cycling, fencing, hockey, rugby,
shooting, soccer, swimming, and water polo. Paul Snook came in for special
mention representing the RAF in cross country.
A team entered the annual Ten Tors Competition, coming 2nd
out of the 160 uniformed organisations. On re-reading the Commandants Report, I
saw that 23 members had gained Gliding Proficiency Certificates.
We enjoyed inter-wing band competitions and it always seemed easier
marching up and down the hill to workshops and schools with the pipe band in
full swing. Our favorite tune was the “Bear”. We had to look out for the SWO –
Joe Bollard – “no foot scraping” and “swing those arms”! There were a number of
characters in the band, Pipe Major “Ginge2 Makepeace being one. Sadly he passed
away last year after a short illness. You may recall listening to the radio
broadcast when our trumpeters including Trumpet Major Barney Barnsley proudly
played at the Cenotaph Remembrance Sunday November 1961.
Other events come to mind. The summer camp at Penhale sands in Cornwall was an
introduction to military field kitchens, living in military style tents and the
duties involved, such as tending the loos, mess serving and litter picking. The
weather was gorgeous so it felt a bit of a holiday way from Halton. Well it did
Christmas 1961, the entry organized and funded a party for 40 children
from local orphanages. This was followed by a competition in the barrack block
to find the best decorated room. The flight commander was most impressed by the
well constructed Santa’s Grotto in one of the rooms. However, he did not
realize that the “escape committee” had hidden a quantity of alcohol in it
which was consumed after lights out.
The 3 years came to a close with our pass-out parade being held on 18th
April 1962. It was a grey and damp day but the entry still put on what the
reviewing officer called “a first class parade”. Celebrations were completed at
the entry dance where we were entertained by the late Johnny Dankworth and his
orchestra in the California Ballroom Dunstable.
So now we have come full circle after 50 years. We must all be Senior
Citizens by now! We have served our country, taken up other careers, found new
hobbies, sports and become involved in charity work. The Pole star as depicted
in our entry window is a guiding star or aiming point for future endeavours.
Our entry members have shown how this has been significant in their lives.
Wally Epton our WO apprentice succeeded in getting a cadetship at Cranwell
where he started his flying career, finishing his service as a Squadron Leader.
He went on to form his own company flying executives. This year Wally was made
Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators. He and Jan his wife spent a
busy year visiting draughty airfields and hangars around the globe. There must
be more untold stories of successes from many of our entry. Hopefully, you have
had a chance this weekend to catch up on a few. It is a pleasure to be
associated with such people.
On your behalf our thanks go to Min Larkin and members of the HAAA
including our own Tony King, Barney (or should I say Christopher?) for all their
time and help in keeping the show on the road. Grateful thanks also go to our
Padre and organist for this service of dedication.
Finally, in the words of Tom Chamberlain: (If it works don’t mess around
Now the years have
And we’re gathered here
To recall our History
And although we’re
The spirit is still
IN THE NINETY SECOND
Roger Stigant (Armament)